First Step to Equity
A St. Louis community-led response to the First Step to Equity report.
Link to the original webpage for The Playbook.
The WEPOWER community believes that every child deserves a powerful, affordable education experience. That’s why WEPOWER are proud members of the Ready by Five St. Louis campaign to increase public education about the opportunity to invest in early childhood education across public schools and community-based centers.
Ready by Five was launched in response to the voices of more than one thousand community members – mommas, grandmas, women of color who care for our babies (ECE educators), K12 educators, advocates, elected leaders, philanthropists, and policy wonks – who designed The Playbook together, an action plan to transform the early childhood education (ECE) system to be just and equitable for all.
Years of research proved that there are not enough affordable, high-quality ECE seats for 0-5-year-olds in STL City and County and that it would require a massive influx of funding to increase access and quality.
The vast majority of public schools do not serve 0-3-year-olds, so a mixed-delivery system that includes collaboration between public schools and community-based providers, often run and staffed by women of color, is necessary.
These findings led community members to research many funding models. Together – through many meetings, tons of public conversations, deep reflection, and centering our values – we COLLECTIVELY determined a modest sales tax with an equitable allocation board is the quickest, most-viable path to ensuring more children 0-5 have access to high-quality, affordable ECE.
Recently, Ready by Five has been an integral part of pandemic relief efforts for the families and educators of young children, this is also a central part of our mission.
We’re excited to see our community-led campaign gain so much traction and grateful for the support of the STL City Alderpersons like Shameem Clark-Hubbard and also STL County Councilwomen like Lisa Clancy, Kelli Dunaway, and Rita Heard Days who are putting this decision before the broader public.
This work is urgent and change can’t come quickly enough. When we choose to unflinchingly put our children at the center and value those who deeply and selflessly care for them, we will become a region that thrives, we will create a narrative rooted in justice, love, and liberation.
This requires sacrifice, tough decisions, and the will to make a collective commitment this November and beyond to nurture ready children, ready parents, and ready communities.
We can win. We will win. We have to win for our babies.